Monday, March 5, 2012

Hamantaschen



Do you know what’s happening this week?  It’s one of my favorite holidays.  It’s Purim!!!!!  Purim is one of the more obscure Jewish holidays, but it’s a great one.  We dress up in costumes.  We read the story of Ester.  We boo loudly every time the antagonist’s name is mentioned during the reading.  We give baskets full of food to our friends.  We give gifts to the poor.  We eat so much food.  We drink until we can’t tell the difference between hero and villain (no, seriously, that’s a real tradition).  And then we have to devour all the goodies our friends gave us in order to clear out our pantries for Passover.  Best. Holiday. Ever.


The food that is associated with Purim is hamantaschen (spelling varies).  You may not know it by name, but I’m sure you’ve seen those triangular cookies stuffed with jam or poppy seeds at the bakery.  I grew up making hamantaschen every year with my mom and sisters.  We used to make a big batch, and each of us would get our own little station at the kitchen table to roll out our dough, cut it into circles, fill it, and pinch it together.  It was an all day activity, and it was awesome.  Almost as awesome as eating the hamantaschen when they were done.


Traditionally, these cookies are filled with fruit preserves (apricot tends to be the crowd favorite) or poppy seeds.  As a child, I didn’t like the poppy seed ones because they weren’t sweet enough.  I’ve also never been a fan of jelly type things.  I just don’t like that sticky-sweet kind of flavor.  So my family invented a new filling, and it has continued to be my absolute favorite to this day; peanut butter chocolate chip.  Crazy, or crazy good? 

Answer: crazy good

To this day, I make hamantaschen every year, even though I no longer live at home.  I make about a third of them with peanut butter and chocolate chips, and the other two thirds with various fruit flavors.  I then give the fruit-filled cookies to my friends, and hog all the peanut butter ones for myself.  I know, I’m super classy. 


I love making these cookies with friends.  If you make them by yourself, they’re time consuming and annoying.  If you make them with friends, it’s a fun activity.  If you have a free Sunday afternoon, whether or not you celebrate Purim, you should totally make these cookies, especially if there are small children in your life.  Kids totally love making hamantaschen.  This year, I baked them with my friend Kim from DC-Wrapped Dates, and a whole bunch of his friends.  There were seven of us baking, drinking wine, playing games.  It was awesome.  I fully believe in making a party out of every baking project.

Also, we made SO MANY HAMANTASCHEN!

These cookies are crazy good, no matter what you fill them with, and you can really play around with what goes in the middle.  You can also play around with the thickness of the cookies.  I prefer them to be thinner and crunchier, letting the filling be more of the star, but I know people who swear by the thicker, cakey-er texture.  It’s totally up to you.


So, what are you waiting for?  Let’s break out our costumes, our noise makers, and our hamantaschen and get the party started!  Happy Purim everyone!


Hamantaschen
Makes about 4 dozen (varies based on what size you make them)

Ingredients:
1 cup of blended silken tofu (or 4 eggs)
1/2 cup of oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 rind of an orange

Whatever fillings you want.  Here are some suggestions:
- Your favorite fruit preserves
- Pumpkin Butter
- Poppy Seeds
- Nutella
- Peanut butter and chocolate chips (warning; this combination should be eaten with a large glass of milk for optimal enjoyment)



Directions:

1.  Mix the tofu (or eggs), oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy.  Also add in the orange rind at this point.

2.  Slowly mix in the dry ingredients to form a soft dough.  It will be slightly sticky, unlike a bread dough, so don’t be too concerned.  It should be firm enough to maintain a shape.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (this makes the sticky dough easier to work with).  Also feel free to make the dough a day or two ahead and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to roll it out.

3.  It's easiest to split the dough into quarters or smaller fractions and only work with a bit at a time while the rest stays in the refrigerator.  Take one section and roll it out on a well-floured surface (or between two pieces of parchment or wax paper) until you’ve reached your desired thickness.  Make sure the whole piece of dough is even.  

Take a water glass (or whatever you’re using to cut out circles), dip the rim in flour, and cut out 2"-3" circles of dough with it.  Try to maximize the dough by placing the circles close to each other.  Take the scraps, scoop them into a ball and set aside to roll out again and repeat the circle cutting process until there is no dough left.

4.  Drop 1 tsp. of filling into the middle of each circle and shape by pinching the sides together to form a triangle.  If the sides are not sticking together, dip your fingertip in water, run it along one side, and pinch together again. 

Try not to overfill the cookies, or else they will spill out over the sides while baking.  They’ll still taste delicious, but they won’t look as pretty.  Fruit preserves are especially dangerous.

5.  Bake in an oven at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 11-15 minutes, depending on how thick you rolled the dough.  Allow the cookies to cool to room temperature, then transfer them to a zip top bag for storage (or gobble them down by the dozen).

***Update: I highly recommend putting a slice of bread in with the cookies when you store them.  The bread keeps the cookies from getting too hard/stale.  I have no idea how it works, but it totally does..






Enjoy!

30 comments:

  1. What an uplifting and entertaining post, plus letting us know about this special holiday and this tasty treat. It sounds like a lot of fun, I will have to book mark this to make with the kids. Personally though I am going for the fruit filled hamantaschen. These look delicious. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. Purim is my favorite holiday! I'm pretty sure the world would be a better place if everyone just stopped and celebrated it. It's just such a happy holiday (admittedly, with a pretty dark story behind it, but whatever). Hope you enjoy making these!

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  2. I've never tried the vegan version but these are definitely my favorite cookies of all time. Wish I was at your house right now :)

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    1. This was the first year I veganized my recipe, mostly to see if I could it. They actually taste the same as I remember them always tasting, and no one could tell they were vegan. My friend even said he was angry that something that tasted so good was vegan. Mission accomplished :-)

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  3. What an interesting and lovely post! These cookies look wonderful and will have to try to make some soon. Love the choice of the fillings! :)

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    1. Thanks! Let me know if you end up making them - I's love to hear what you think of them!

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  4. Peanut butter choc chip Hamantaschen? Yes please! :) Looks perfectly delicious.

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    1. Thanks! Also delicious is Nutella and peanut butter filling. We tried that one out this year, and it was a big hit.

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  5. Beautifully done! They look delish!!!

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  6. Just lovely! Nice work on all the neat fillings

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    1. Thank you! This year's batch was probably the least over-filled I've ever made. I was super proud of everyone.

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  7. What an incredible recipe! I love that you use tofu in the dough and those fillings sound so good - especially the peanut butter and chocolate chip! :)

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    1. Thanks! Tofu is my favorite egg substitution, I've decided. It's worked in every baked good I've tried it in.

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  8. These look so adorable and yummy - what a fun tradition to make these with your friends and family!

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    1. Thank you! It's always my favorite part of this dreary winter-is-almost-over-but-spring-really-isn't-here-yet time of the year.

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  9. These are always so beautiful, enticing and, well intimidating at the same time. Thanks for making it accessible!

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    1. Don't be intimidated! Hamantaschen are just like regular sugar cookies until after you cut out circles. Pinching them into shape is super easy. I think the hardest part is not overfilling them, haha.

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  10. Thank you so much for posting this. Our rabbi's daughter can't eat eggs and this recipe sounds perfect!

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    1. In general, 1/4 cup of blended silken tofu can substitute for eggs in pretty much all baked goods. It's my favorite trick, because no one can taste the difference!

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  11. love this recipe! the dought is great (i've never think about tofu inside!!!) and I want try this with every filling you suggest!

    lovely blog!

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    1. Thank you! Let me know if you come up with any other filling ideas...I tend to stick to the same ones every year.

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  12. These look great - what a beautiful recipe! Love all the different fillings you used.

    Also, wanted to let you know that I'm tagging you in a get-to-know-your-fellow-blogger game. Check out my post to play along: http://willcookforfriends.blogspot.com/2012/03/getting-to-know-you-getting-to-know-all.html

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    1. Thanks! And thank you for tagging me in the game! I'll post my response later this week!

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  13. These are beautiful and I love that they are vegan! I've never had one before but I'll definitely have to try them!

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  14. Can you use something to substitute the oil AND can you use other flours beside all purpose?

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  15. OH and similarly can you use other sugars or agave syrup and can orange be substitute or taken out

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    1. Honestly, I have no idea! I've only made this recipe this way/with eggs. I love it so much that I don't bother messing with it.

      I wouldn't make ALL these substitutions at once (that's a lot of changes and they might not all work/work together), but feel free to experiment! You can def leave out the citrus, but that's really what makes these cookies so great. It doesn't taste like orange if you're worried about that. You could also use lemon zest instead.

      I'd love to hear how it turns out with your changes!

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  16. Just a note as I made these yesterday. Eaten warm, I found the tofu flavor pronounced and not too pleasant (and I like tofu!). However, the next day, that had faded and they taste fine.

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  17. Made these a few hours ago. Easy to follow directions. A lot of labor, but worth it. First time I've ever made these. My lesson learned for next time is to make a slightly larger, thinner cookie. Other than that, perfect! Flavor is good! The tofu makes a great texture. I used a lot less of the orange due to my poor knife skills, but it turned out to be the right amount for this batch. I think the orange makes it so good. Thanks for this recipe. I scoured the internet, and chose this one, and so very glad I did!! Happy Purim!! :-)

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